Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law January 10, 2024

With the deadline later this year for completing balcony inspections, Laurie Poole and I will speak on legal aspects related to the inspections. 

We will address (i) how to fund inspections, (ii) how to fund repairs, (iii) how to deal with balcony railings and code upgrades, (iv) who pays for construction defects, and (v) if individual owners can be assessed for damage.

There will be time for questions at the end. REGISTER HERE for the January 25, 2024 webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information for the meeting.

QUESTION: If an owner owns multiple units in our community do we need to send him multiple budgets? –Jennifer S.
ANSWER: One package is enough. You are making disclosures to the owner, not his properties.
QUESTION: When do new directors officially take office? Is it the month following the annual election or the night of meeting? We recently changed management companies and they are telling us new boards can immediately start conducting business the night of the election, which has not been our practice. –Bryan D.
ANSWER: Unless your bylaws or election rules state otherwise, directors take office upon their election at the annual meeting. They can immediately conduct business, provided an agenda was published for that purpose. 
Many associations include in their annual meeting agenda that an organizational board meeting will immediately follow the annual meeting to elect officers. Some associations prefer to schedule their organizational meeting the following week to elect officers and conduct other business.
QUESTION: Our president hired a lawyer who bills the association. He refuses to reply to emails or answer phone calls. His response to me is he is not authorized to speak to anyone else. Can he represent the association and refuse inquiries when the president won't pose the question to him especially when the question involves her decisions. -Gary S.
ANSWER: Your president should not be hiring a lawyer unless it was done with the approval of the board. If properly hired, the attorney serves as legal counsel to the association, not to the president, which means he can bill the association for services rendered.
Once hired, it is industry practice that the president and manager act as the intermediary with the association's attorney. Doing so keeps costs down and avoids conflicting instructions to legal counsel. If the board wants a legal opinion and the president refuses, it may be time for directors to appoint someone else as liaison with the attorney. If your president has gone rogue and is making decisions without board knowledge or approval, it's time for a new president.
QUESTION: We have a chair who believes it is okay to send out confidential information because a letter he recently sent out was "personal, and not as a board member." The letter contained inflammatory information and was specifically aimed at getting members to not vote for a member running for the board. –Jan N.
ANSWER: Directors and committee members should not be distributing executive session confidential information to the membership. With that caveat, directors and committee members are allowed to campaign for or against candidates running for the board. Provided they are truthful and not using association resources to campaign, all members can express their opinions about candidates. Whether opinions are deemed inflammatory or not may depend on one's point of view. Elections sometimes get messy. I suspect our national presidential campaign over the next ten months will get fairly heated.
QUESTION: I've served on our board much longer than anyone should, mainly due to owner complacency & laziness. I've lately become exasperated with how some owners behave. Topping the list are new owners who arrive with grand plans for the common areas and/or email the board multiple times a week with petty complaints and unreasonable demands. It's doubly weird because these folks never volunteer to serve, and often lobby for expensive changes but squawk the loudest if we increase the dues. We spend 10 hours a month playing rhetorical volleyball with 1 or 2 of these hyperactive creatures, and that's clearly unsustainable. Any suggestions on how to fix that? -Peter E.
ANSWER: I can think of ways but none of them are legal. Maybe our readers have some ideas.
11th ANNUAL ABCs of HOAs

Adrian Adams and Neda Nehouray will be speaking at a Zoom video conference on January 20, 2024 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The webinar will cover legal updates, insurance, investing reserves, construction defects, reserve studies, tackling challenging personalities, effective budgeting, and security. To register, CLICK HERE.


Not Criminals. I served on a jury for a criminal case years ago. When asked during voir dire if I knew any attorneys, I said yes, but working in the HOA industry, they were not criminal. I got a big laugh to my embarrassment. Keep up the good work. Your newsletter is one of the things in my inbox I look forward to receiving. -Bob B.

Elevator Wires. Here is an actual email my son got from the HOA where he rents a condo. -R.W.
Dear Homeowners/Residents,

The bottom floor elevator key cylinder part has been ordered and will arrive in about two weeks.

In the meantime, the elevator is operational and you can call the elevator from the garage by holding the two wires by the rubber coated part and touching the tips.
RESPONSE: That's shocking.

HOA Attorney Wannabe #1. Oh my goodness, you guys must have been watching our association. You hit on everything that needs to be addressed with the new board--social media, emails and of course HOA attorney wannabes. Your sense of humor is welcomed and appreciated. –Chris C.

HOA Attorney Wannabe #2. When owner attorneys want to give the board legal advice, I tell them we would be happy to hear it as soon as they provide their I-9, a copy of their BAR card and license number, and proof of insurance naming us as an additionally insured, and then I pay them $5 with a short contract, so if their advice is followed, they are accountable if they are wrong. You would be surprised how quickly most will back off. –Dawn J.

North Carolina. I confess I am not a resident of CA. I live in NC and am on the board of our association. Thus, I am likely not supposed to be receiving your newsletter, and will understand if I am discontinued. I find your newsletter very informative and look forward to it. Although CA and NC laws differ, there is much that is relevant, ethical issues being one area. Just want to let you know that your updates are informative, relevant, and interesting. -Richard B.

RESPONSE: I like North Carolina. It's Washington D.C. that gives me the willies. You are welcome to receive our newsletters.

Boards can contact us--we're friendly and our rates are competitive.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner
DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary, not legal advice. Boards need to retain an attorney to review all the facts and give a legal opinion on the issues they face. We serve as corporate counsel to California associations only. Request a proposal to represent your association.

PAST NEWSLETTERS. Readers can find current and prior year newsletters posted here. Older newsletters are not posted since the information they contain can change over time with new statutes and case law. The website, however, is kept updated with current information which can be found via the "Index" or through our website's internal "Google Search" feature.

I join Adrian in inviting you to contact us for your association's legal needs.

Hon. Lawrence W. Stirling, Senior Partner and author of the Davis-Stirling Act

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